Category Archives: Fine Art

The 2017 War … of Art

The 2017 War … of Art

6 Part Art Series … by Maurice Cardinal … Part 1

Visual artists and their agents have more power today than they have ever had simply because they can now communicate directly with buyers and collectors, and if they choose, bypass contemporary galleries , although in most cases that’s probably not recommended.

Buyers and collectors also now have more power for exactly the same reasons.

Contemporary art galleries, which are feverishly scrambling to reinvent their business models, represent a strained system that is falling out of favor with artists and buyers.

It’s no longer accurate to talk about the art world in generalities, especially in the world of contemporary art where the norm is to move at light speed. If you make a claim that galleries are struggling, it’s important to differentiate between the types of galleries. For example, there is a big difference between legacy galleries that only manage the masters in a blue chip market, and contemporary galleries that promote emerging midline artists. Not all galleries are in trouble. In fact some don’t consider it a struggle at all – more like a blip until they see where the market is going, at which point they adjust.

High end art galleries are experts at controlling art prices by carefully manipulating artists and buyers, but don’t confuse these investment houses with small urban galleries because there is a big difference.

. . . . . .

High end galleries resist social media because it is inherently transparent and exposes too many secrets. The last place you want to be seen when you’re price fixing is on Twitter.

The luxury market strategy works much differently than the common art market, and it’s critical to know the difference.

. . . . . .

It’s also important to realize that a wide range of art viewers are watching online, from experts to neophytes, which means if you want to evolve and expand your market you have to be patient with newcomers and not talk over their heads in art-speak that only a person with a degree would understand. In today’s contemporary art world, philosophy and art degrees fall under the “good to have” but not “need to know” category. If your goal is to be a curator of a museum or large gallery a degree is mandatory because that investor-driven group is primarily influenced by provenance and pedigree as opposed to the aesthetics and emotion of art.

In our new world of contemporary art, everyone in the social media sphere is not only watching and asking, but also demanding, including consumers who might not know anything about art, but they know what they like. All of a sudden everyone is an expert and critic, and everyone in our fractured niche world now matters simply because they have a voice. Go ahead, ignore or insult them and see what happens on Facebook and Twitter. You probably won’t like it.

Galleries that promote primarily contemporary artists struggle to reinvent themselves as disruptive strategists circle tighter and tighter. What you thought you knew about promoting, selling, and buying art is rapidly changing.

Emerging artists, especially millennials, embrace technology and social media, while old guard artists struggle more e3ach day to continue to cultivate and manage the traditional networks they created over many decades. As you might expect, they are also preoccupied with protecting their markets and hesitant to change what has worked for them in the past – transitions are always difficult.

Mature artists have access to the same technology, but are reluctant to use it for a variety of reasons, mostly because it can be confusing, but also because they are concerned about alienating contemporary gallery owners who, for similar reasons, have also been reluctant to change how they do business. Change can be expensive. Many mature artists feel intimidated by technology so they do only the bare minimum and hope for the best while they wait for the market to return to its old dynamic. The reality though is that the art market will never return to its hierarchical, gallery-influenced past no matter how much you wish it.

For insight about how the contemporary visual art industry will evolve over the next couple of years a good place to start is the music industry and to look at what happened when MP3 came on the scene over two decades ago. Technical aspects and product format are different for visual art than for music, but the delivery and promotion model share many similarities. Promotion, thankfully, is relatively similar across all art genres, and what works for independent musicians often also works for visual artists.

Art took on an unexpectedly strong political undertone in 2016 when Donald Trump was elected president. Opportunities in this arena grew explosively and seem to be endless.

Asians1000-0550Many artists however resist being politically oriented fearing it will impact corporate sponsorship, commissions, and grants.

For that type of more traditional artist there is no obvious political upside like there is for artists creating work on the fringe with pieces designed to raise consciousness and awareness, perfect fodder for millenials.

Art plays a key role in what we know of ourselves as a society and is one of the mirrors we peer into every day. It’s not an understatement to say that if it weren’t for artists, we would all be much less informed and poorer for it.

It was almost fifty years ago in the late sixties when artists banded together to promote a collective political ethos, and they did it quite aggressively. Think John Lennon vs. “The Man.” The Peace Movement was driven by musicians, writers, and protest posters.

Artists changed the world in that era until hippies grew up to become bean counters.

In the decades since, governments and corporations have decimated art funding.

When you take art away … all you have left is a blank canvass.

Read Part 2 …


Read  the entire series – The 2017 War … of Art
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The 2017 War … of Art

The 2017 War … of Art

6 Part Art Series … by Maurice Cardinal … Part 2

Artists who create works primarily for traditional residential-styled buyers will have an increasingly difficult time finding a market as small contemporary galleries struggle.

On the other hand though, artists who create unique, whimsical, and unusual pieces designed to stimulate debate and controversy, now have a way, through social media, to connect with buyers and collectors with similar niche interests. If you want to push your artistic vision over the edge now is the time because not only can artists and galleries more easily find a market, art buyers too can more easily find art. Younger emerging artists are exploding in this area, and without doubt their presence will escalate exponentially in 2017.

According to the UK 2016 Hiscox Online Art Trade Report, 46% of millennial art buyers buy online, and 49% are repeat buyers. 57% are female, and 34% overall will invest up to £10,000 each year ($12,000 USD).

In the report millennials identified their
#1 reason for buying art as emotion based.

92% of people buy what they like,

57% of the decision to buy art is weighted towards investment,

44% of the decision was based on reasons regarding status 

39% of the time an art purchase had social significance

The first number, 92%, is huge when you consider that
social media is the perfect tool to cultivate emotion.

Whether you are an artist or a gallerist, if you know how to develop an ecommerce web presence that entices and properly leads to a purchase decision, the odds increase greatly that once you have an art buyer’s interest, they will make a spontaneous decision to buy.


. . . . . .

The problem today is that “most” of the third party gallery ecomm sites look like a Sears catalog.

. . . . . .

It takes specialised skills to build an ecomm site that incorporates an effective sales strategy leading to a purchase decision. Templates don’t work. It needs a personal touch. Even though it is a large corporation,  Amazon does it masterfully, but the art world is still lagging far behind in this respect, by about twenty years.

That being said, the art world is also still in an early adopter stage, which means that if this dynamic even remotely mirrors what happened in the book and music businesses twenty years ago, and there is no reason or indication it won’t, it will only be a a very short time before this trend will also move across to the older Gen X and Boomer demographics.

As this trend grows, galleries will increasingly struggle until they either get onboard and embrace online promotion and sales in a more professional way, or they will disappear just like record and book stores did in the last decade. Many galleries in 2016 do have some type of online presence, but most are amateurish, which actually hurts them more than it helps because it undermines their hard won reputation for quality.

Artist websites can afford to look bohemian, in fact they should,
but for gallery sites shabby chic is the kiss of death.

If you’re an artist who thinks promotion is a dirty word you’re going to be pushed even further into the shadows. If you also think your art will sell itself, you’re living in a past world that existed only as an anomaly. Until an artist has an established and solid reputation, art rarely sells itself. It’s what contemporary galleries and agents are for, except now that galleries are struggling, with many trimming their artist rosters, staff, and promotional budgets, it is having a direct and deleterious effect on artists.

Many contemporary art galleries, just like newspapers, ignored the signs for years thinking the internet wouldn’t impact their business. Small contemporary galleries are now closing faster than acrylic paint dries in the sun.

As a result, artists, emerging artists especially,
are well advised to become expert self-promoters.

Contemporary art galleries aren’t closing only because of what social media is doing, at least not in a big of way. Galleries are struggling because they are failing to meet the needs of buyers and collectors who also have had to tighten belts due to the recession and globalization. As galleries continue to weaken, it allows social media more of a toehold until the momentum becomes exponential and the paradigm flips.

Old guard artists will be able to grandparent out as long as they remain a bit flexible, but as galleries struggle to reinvent themselves, mature contemporary artists will eventually have very few bricks and mortar places to exhibit their work . It takes time and expertise to develop social media skills, so if artists and galleries don’t prepare now they will eventually run out of options. The good news though is that social media promotion is not hard to learn when you take incremental steps. The IAD offers programs, as do other art groups.

Successful artists today invest as much or more time promoting and marketing their work as they do creating it. If you are fortunate enough to have an agent or a gallery they can contribute significantly to the promotional workload, but artists also have to contribute in a variety of meaningful ways.



To put a new twist
on an old saying,

Trump’s hair won’t comb itself
and neither will art sell itself.

Artists need to be out there in some form or another virtually networking and promoting to increase their visibility and credibility in the artistic community.

For years writers have been expected by publishers to help with promotion, i.e. book signings, social media sites, mainstream interviews, etc. Today, a solid social media strategy is also one of the promotional tools a publisher expects an artist to use effectively.

Artists who create primarily for their own satisfaction are hobby artists, similar to artisans and crafters. Hundreds of thousands of hobby artists are, relatively speaking, pretty good at creating art, but it’s as far as they ever get. They don’t have any real interest in displaying or selling their art because it presents too much of a risk financially and emotionally – it hurts to be rejected. They usually have an adequate job that pays the rent and allows for basic comforts like a new car every now and then, and of course a vacation or two every year. They create when they have time, but they lack dedicated inspiration and don’t really know how the art market works, even though they think they do. No one in the art industry takes them seriously because they don’t take themselves seriously.

Hobby artists often also have the perfect studio space, and all the gear, except they need just one more gadget to complete their toolbox so they can then create their masterpiece. Thomas Moore wrote at length about artists like this in his well respected book, Care of the Soul. If I’ve described you in the paragraph above, this book is highly recommended.

This 6 Part Series of articles is not for hobby artists. It’s for artists who want to create full time and who will die trying. They might still have a day job, but they work every day towards becoming a full-time artist and living the dream. More importantly, they take all the right steps towards their goal, and they have a timeline with a series of events they meet. If they do have a day job, it is often in an arts-related field, so that at least every day they are immersed in creativity in some capacity.

I think what irks full time artists the most about hobby artists is that hobby artists often complain that they can’t sell their work because the market isn’t very good right now. The reality though is that the market, except for recession type anomalies, is actually pretty good for artists who work at “selling” their art. As long as you keep abreast of changing buyer interests, and marketing and promotion strategies, it’s not that hard to find someone to buy your art if it is well produced and unique. The key to sales–it has to be unique. In sales terms it means your art must have a differentiating factor, whether it is subject matter or technique. Gallerists sometimes like to pretend there is some type of magic involved in art sales, but as you’ll see throughout this series, there is no voodoo. It’s all about human behavior and sales technique, and it’s not hard to learn. Similar psychological techniques that work for car, house, and vintage wine sales, work for art.


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The 2017 War … of Art

The War … of Art

6 Part Art Series … by Maurice Cardinal … Part 3

Just like the music industry twenty years ago, the visual art middle is being squeezed and overshadowed by both ends. The middle represents artists who produce work, but who don’t actively promote or sell. They hang on to implausible hope that prospective buyers will somehow stumble upon their work. This group represents the bulk of the industry and is made up mostly of part-timers – some highly skilled and creative as artists, but not as marketers. On the right side of the spectrum squeezing out the middle are high end galleries and elite artists, plus, hedge fund investors who artificially inflate prices so they can flip for profit. This bubble is rapidly inflating, and it could very well burst in the near future.

MH-AspenGrove-455. . . . . .

On the liberal left is a growing group of emerging artists who use social media to disrupt the system. Every artist should be operating and communicating in this sphere, but so far it is primarily younger emerging artists.

. . . . . .

The once strong liberal arts community of artists, galleries, and collectors, a group that embraces avant-garde and even political rancor is being scooped and upstaged by individual artists who know how to use social media to extend their reach in partnership with and even beyond galleries.

. . . . .

Progressive artists go straight to buyers and collectors using “disruptive” techniques. It’s a time-tested strategy that has radically changed a number of industries like music, books, newspapers, and also financial services, retail, and technology sectors.

It’s the first time artists have had such “direct” access and power, but in order to capitalize on this rapidly growing phenomenon they also need at least rudimentary writing and promotion skills, which galleries traditionally provide.

The good news is that this style of promotion is still so new artists can be highly experimental and make mistakes and few will notice or care because everyone else is also still trying to figure it out.

Artist run studio-galleries fit into these laterally radiating global hubs very nicely and have become increasingly popular as society cocoons in social media worlds. We are not as face-to-face friendly as we used to be. We now often live and work in digital silos connected to more silos. As traditional contemporary galleries shape-shift, reinvent, and even close, galleries owned and operated by artists gain higher visibility.

The goal for studio-gallery artists is usually to be able to maintain control over their artistic freedom while maintaining economic viability. These Instagram art stars usually have no grand illusions of competing with blue chip galleries that have far superior marketing and promotion expertise and fat budgets to woo collectors at expensive dinner parties, but they do know how to use social media effectively.

The secret for artist run studio-galleries is to find an affordable location in an area that values culture. Studio galleries are natural meeting places for artists and their collectors.

In urban areas it’s easy to drop in to see recent works, and sometimes even to view pieces currently in production. It can also become a hotspot for local and visiting artists to hang out and trade information.

Chris MacClure (IAD Founder) and his wife and partner Marilyn Hurst have owned studio galleries in White Rock BC and Cabos San Lucas (The Golden Cactus ) and learned decades ago about the importance of being at the center of the art community in your region. Younger artists have expanded and pushed their local region towards a global platform using social media like Instagram and Twitter.

There are literally tens of thousands of artist-run galleries like this around the world, with some of the most experimental in Europe – Berlin to name one city in particular. Artsy published a great article recently featuring artists like Carrick Bell and Michael Rocco Ruglio-Misurell of Horse and Pony Fine Arts; and also Christian Siekmeier of Exile; Barbara Wolff and Katharina Stoever of Peles Empire ; and Rachel Alliston of Decad.

The Horse and Pony Fine Arts web presence is simple and complex at the same time. Simple in design, but rich in “easily” accessible content.   They also incorporate a few video pieces, which is absolutely mandatory in this era if you really want to separate yourself from the crowd.

Artists will soon have no choice but to produce a video depicting their art, style, and most importantly their personal selves – the human spirit behind the concept. If you don’t want to play in the video arena, you will inevitably get pushed to the back of the line. A well produced video can be an influential reflection of a bricks and mortar gallery delivering all the relevant information, provenance, and aesthetic impact necessary to entice a buyer to a purchase decision. When you do it properly, and it is an art, it makes it easy for collectors to learn about you and your art.

Wealthy collectors use the internet just like you. Donald Trump has one of the most popular Twitter accounts today @realDonaldTrump  and is a prime example of a society subset that has embraced social media.

If the wealthy are there, artists need to be there too, just like the artists below …

Artist Videos

A Day in the Life of Artist Lori McNee

Marc Doiron Time Lapse

Eric Fischl

Vladimir Volegov Time Lapse

Amadea Baily

Read Part 4 … 

Read  the entire series – The 2017 War … of Art
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The 2017 War … of Art

The 2017 War … of Art

6 Part Art Series … by Maurice Cardinal – Part 4

My business partner, Chris MacClure, painter and Founder of International Artist Day reminded me that the perceived value of an art piece is directly proportional to where the prospective buyer sees it hanging.

It sounds shallow, and makes many artists boil with contempt, but the reality is that in many respects, the elite have strong influence over the art world just as they do the wine world. Wine promoters, gallerists, and curators all manufacture sophisticated campaigns designed to artificially inflate value of their respective products. Fake it till you make it!

Art value is not real, it’s perceived, and it’s exactly why hedge art fund investors do so well. They pay homage to P.T. Barnum’sThere’s a sucker born every minute” mantra, which is also known today as a #Trumpism.

It is futile for galleries at this late date to complain about hedge-fund art investment fraud and global scandal when it is contemporary galleries too that built and still stubbornly promote this dynamic, albeit on a much smaller scale. Blue chip galleries raised the bar for everyone, which means all buyers now have well defined expectations of what makes art great, whether it sells for one, or one billion dollars.


In the 80’s I was an executive on an elite team  that sold superstar artists to Donald Trump for his Atlantic City showroom casinos.

Consequently, and this is my personal opinion not that of the IAD, I know firsthand that even an egotistical  blowhard like Trump can be wooed and fooled. The bigger the ego, the easier it is to do. We loved Trump because he overpaid for everything.

Promoters like Trump, and that’s what he is  – a promoter like boxing impresario Don King, operate on perceived, not real value. If you convince buyers who also think like this that your art is worth what you’re asking, and you design the sales proposition properly, it’s possible to entice them.

It is the exact same psychology galleries use, and
a strategy Hollywood agents perfected decades ago.

The music business operates on the “You’re only as good as your last hit” mantra, which basically means, “Yeah you reached the coveted #1 position last week, but what do you have for me today that is just like yesterday, but different? Not too different, just a little different from why I liked you in the first place, and not too esoteric, just enough to stimulate the imagination of people who aren’t artists, you know, the buyers who quit dreaming when they settled into their complacent keep up with the Jones’ lifestyles.

Artists have to always remember that buyers often live vicariously through you. They want to be you, but they literally cannot stomach the risk. Consequently, it follows that if you as an artist don’t take a risk, what is it then that you bring to a buyer’s table? The high value of perfect technical ability maybe, like Robert Bateman? Ah, of course, the mainstay of the pseudo-intellectual buyer who is looking for art to match their walls and staid lifestyle. It’s a mainstream style he helped develop, and he’s done a lot of good for the industry, ecology, and his wildlife charities, but if you’re an artist, good luck competing in an oversaturated market full of similar copycat artists who don’t invest the time. If you want to compete for this audience you need to take the same risk Batman takes by being highly detailed, invest huge amounts of time in each image, and deliver something a little different, but the same on each canvass. Any time you invest that heavily in yourself, whether it is time in front of the canvass, setting a photo scene, or raising your visibility through promotion, you take huge risk, because all we have that is of “real” value is precious time.

A smart artist today, one who actually wants to be able to support themselves so they can create full-time and invest all that time painting in each hair, has to know where the market is going so they can identify the special conditions each genre and style requires. You can’t just show up like back in the day. That luxury is long gone because now everyone is an artist, and some of the part-timers are better than the lifers, which dilutes the professional art market and confuses buyers.

Malaysia mass produces living room art for fifty bucks a canvas that looks so good that sometimes even the pros can’t tell the difference. Social media has pulled the Wizard of Oz’s curtain aside so we can now all see the machinations and manipulations. Some galleries and curators don’t like the reveal, but transparency is progress, so some of the progressive galleries are now scrambling to more seriously integrate themselves into the social media community where they can promote their products transparently as they also figure out how to protect their traditional industry secrets that help keep them competitive.

The reality is that galleries and artists who understand
this concept are already picking low hanging fruit.

Times change. You need to change too.

One of the personal problems way too many artists have is that they produce work to match the drapes instead of producing a piece buyers want to proudly display and talk about. Too many artists play Walmart safe, and then wonder why their work doesn’t sell. Or they create something so esoteric only a small portion of buyers appreciate it, which is fine if you can sell it for $100K, but finding buyers who will repeatedly invest that much in a piece that makes sense to only a tiny psychographic will be a never ending challenge.

If you want to be saleable you have to walk that
fine line between innovation and the comfort zone.

Today, artists are proposing to launch a cultural strike and not work the day Donald Trump is inaugurated. Really? That’s it? I’m beginning to believe what I read about millennials. In my day artists would be plastering the town with protest posters and organizing rallies. Some would even be getting shot. It’s not like we don’t have a lack of things to protest today, but unfortunately not enough artists are taking  the risk to lead the march.

I absolutely understand why U.S. citizens feel a need to do something to protect art and culture, but it’s their strategy I question. Passive aggressive action will not phase someone like Trump. Knowing him and his narcissistic type, in his mind he will consider it a victory because he negatively impacted the boycotters’ revenue stream, and that ultimately, is his goal. He will feel like he won, and his followers will agree.

I do like however what some of the museums are doing. They too agree something has to be done, so many, like The Whitney Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts are offering free or pay what you want admissions and doing it in celebration of the First Amendment and free speech. Plus, some are hosting special events themed for the day to bring visibility to the cause. Hopefully artists everywhere will congregate in U.S. art centers and galleries and voice their opinions that day too. We’ll see. ArtNews published a great article with more details.

What about it smaller galleries, what are you doing to mark Trump’s inauguration? Not just hiding out and avoiding issues that negatively impact your livelihood I hope.

The Baltimore Sun is a calling artists out for being too wishy-washy re Trump.

Artists like Meryl Streep have the right idea …

Another challenge artists face today is diversification of the art industry.

Just like the music business, the visual art world
has been fractured into a variety of genres.

Thankfully though, for each genre there is a matching buyer.

Back in the day it used to be easy to choose a musical style. For example you could pick classical, rock, pop, country, blues, and a few more, but today the options are endless with styles like acid-jazz-funk-fusion-kiddy-pop. The same goes for the visual world. It’s even possible today to purchase, for relatively large and surprising sums, digital art, which is made up entirely of pixels and delivered, avec provenance, on a hard drive. Art in this style can sell for upwards of $30,000. The trick is to find a buyer, but again, thanks to social media, it’s relatively easy to identify and network within this community.

Artist Joshua Citarella knows how to disrupt the gallery system, and he does it tongue in cheek in a wildly unique and experimental way. His online art store on Etsy sold fifty-four pieces in 2015, and although none of the sales are groundbreaking from a traditional gallery perspective, it indicates once more that buyers will purchase art online, and even more importantly, because all except one of the purchases were made by people within Joshua’s network, it means collectors also support this new system. When artists like it, and collectors like it, galleries had better like it too and rethink their process.

Think Niche! Niche! Niche in 2017!

Read Part 5 … 

Read  the entire series – The 2017 War … of Art
Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5     Part 6


The 2017 War … of Art

The 2017 War … of Art

6 Part Art Series … by Maurice Cardinal …  Part 5 

The contemporary art world
is just as impacted by globalization
as all other industries.

How we navigate within it however, is unique.

Art buyers in the global community play in a luxurious world and with economic clout to make art purchases in the multimillion-dollar-and-up range. Your artist heart can rage against globalization all you want, but globalisation has spawned an innovative, albeit highly disruptive investment model that will change the landscape dramatically and give artists more opportunities. Hedge fund investment in the arts is here for as long as it generates profit. It won’t go away without legislation, and that could be a very long time coming if at all considering the overall lack of interest by politicians regarding art and culture. The only time bureaucrats have an interest is when they see a photo op.

Kissing chris
. . . . .

It’s called the art business because it’s also about generating revenue so you can continue to make more art without having to juggle three part time jobs.

. . . . .

Opportunities are endless when the status quo/galleries are shaken up and you’re in a community of like minded artists and buyers with complementary styles and goals.
. . . . .

The art community is a friendly place for the most part, but during offer or bid stages it’s as highly competitive as a major league sports arena – we just smile more. When a collector discovers your work online, or at an art fair or gallery, your goal as an artist is to ensure that a comfortable portion of the buyer’s budget finds its way into your world so you can live to fight another day.

Make no mistake, art is war is art.

Like millions of pseudo starving artists, you can fool yourself into thinking your talent and conservative vision are so rare and sought after that buyers will find you through divine intervention simply because you know how to draw a clean circle, but if you think this way, you might want to keep your day jobs.

When large corporations like Red Bull / House of Art and Tiffany & Co get in the fine art market, it’s a good indication gatekeepers like galleries and curators are in an experimental phase and that major change is afoot across the industry.

The marriage of Andy Warhol and Absolute Vodka in the mid 80’s
started a POP Art trend that still lives strong today.

Red Bull is the new Absolut Vodka revisited.

Here’s a list of Corporations that supported the Arts in 2016 has a long list of digital art selling in the $30 to $1,000 range.

Social Media is radically changing the Contemporary Art Gallery model

250+ Places to Sell Art Online


Is the Traditional Art Gallery Dead?
No, but it’s having a NDE and is gasping .
Here’s what 21 gallerists and curators think …

Galleries Should Act Like Luxury Brands to Survive the Internet

Are Mid-Size Galleries Disappearing, if so, Who’s To Blame?

The TECH World is Buying Art Online, of course they are …

How Tech has Transformed the World of Art Collecting.

The art market in early 2017 is volatile. Values for emerging midrange artists dropped considerably in 2016. According to Artsy, at a Phillips auction last September pieces by Christian Rosa and Hugh Scott-Douglas sold for thirty grand and twenty-two thousand five hundred respectively which was a surprise considering that in recent previous years their works sold in the six figure range. Also, a Lucie Stahl painting estimated to sell for six grand only attracted a bid of just over five hundred dollars. Auction totals dropped considerably for emerging artists.

At Frieze Week, Artsy reported that Phillips totals were down by almost half even though they “maintained 94% sell-through rate by value”. Auction houses reacted by adding more blue chip material and trimming midline artists.

The following paragraph from an Artsy article is painfully cautious …The art world’s resistance to change may be due, in part, to a reluctance of powerful art professionals to divulge their insights. While working on the original version of Art/Work, Bhandari was surprised to find that some people turned down interviews because “they didn’t want to demystify the art world. They liked the power dynamic the way it was,” she recalls. “They said, ‘I don’t want artists to have that information that changes my relationship with them. I like it the way it is.’”

Writer Abigail Cain, also quoted Bhandari and Melber saying “resistance to change may be due, in part, to a reluctance of powerful art professionals to divulge their insights“.
Without a doubt it is why, and mostly why galleries took such a long time to embrace social media. They don’t want to reveal their sales process and strategies.

Galleries have highly detailed sales history reports of their clients and families, information they use during presales and negotiations. When the sales process moves online, the information remains the same, but the face to face relationship is lost. A well designed web presence makes up for the loss of personalisation by  asking questions and tracking prospects as they navigate the site.


When Simon Cowell launched American Idol the music industry went ballistic because Cowell made it obvious to everyone that there is an overabundance of great talent in the world, and that being talented does not guarantee success. The public soon learned that promotion not talent is the critical element. Almost overnight artists had to become “authentic” because talent alone couldn’t differentiate them from the pack. Not real authentic mind you, Hollywood authentic.

A very similar process is now evolving in the visual arts world.

As Yogi said (the Berra not the guru), “It’s déjà vu all over again!”


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The 2017 War … of Art

The 2017 War … of Art

6 Part Art Series … by Maurice Cardinal … Part 6

Galleries, both blue chip and contemporary, are struggling to maintain control, and literally don’t know exactly, what to do–just like record companies didn’t know what to do in the early 90’s when independent musicians began to promote themselves online.


Galleries don’t know what to do because there is nothing they can do except get in the game at ground level like everyone else.

Artists now have the upper hand, for a while, except most don’t know it yet, other than early adopters.

. . . . . .

When an artist can reach a buyer directly, and vice verse, what value and role does a contemporary art gallery really play?

Other than in big cities, in order to survive, art galleries as we know them will have to adopt a brand new way to serve, and I mean really “serve” the artist and the buyer.

. . . . .

This line from an Artsy article sums it up nicely; “They [Gallerists] said, ‘I don’t want artists to have that information that changes my relationship with them. I like it the way it is.’”

Every record company executive sang exactly that same tune in the early 90’s, just before their jobs became redundant and most were fired en masse.

Record companies gave the boot to most of their mid-level executives, and within a decade almost all record stores were closed too.

The exact same thing happened to the book business when the disruptive granddaddy of them all,, came on the scene.

Independent record and book stores disappeared quickly.

Google has been working on an experimental Art related disruptive system that I’m sure is secretly making curators and galleries everywhere nervous, but as usual no one wants to address the ramifications too deeply hoping it will go away. Algorithms like this, not from Google necessarily, have already driven tens thousands of middle management executives in other industries out of business and the same will befall the art business in the next few years. It might even happen sooner because it makes access to information very easy, literally at a glance, to see what art is currently in the market, who has it, where it is, and why it’s important, or more importantly why it’s not. Transparency is at the core of disruptive marketing. We see it happen every day on Wiki this-and-that, and it’s about to turn the art industry inside out too. is another company also on a mission to,  as they claim; “cover the entire history of Art and provide a new form of interaction between contemporary artists and their audience.” Whether or not they can do it remains to be seen, but if they don’t you can guarantee someone will and it probably won’t come from key players in the art world,  because they’re too frantic trying to protect their hard earned markets. Instead, it will  more than likely be developed by a technology company. Here’s the tech company behind WikiArt … SocialTalents. I know, they look benign, but disruptive companies always do until it’s too late. Stealth is often a disruptive company’s modus operandi. They don’t necessarily know how to draw or paint, but they do know how to code an algorithm and launch an IPO.

So … where is the Visual Art market going?

Without doubt it is heading down the same road as the music industry.

In the 80’s musicians complained relentlessly and with good reason that the big five record companies were ripping them off and making a fortune off their backs. When the internet and MP3 came along it gave musicians power to reach consumers directly, which they did.

In a very short time no one was making money selling music in the manner the industry and musicians had come to expect. The big five panicked and began partnering with each other, and when that didn’t work, relative new player Sony zoomed in and reinvented the entire music business model with iTUNES.

The exact same thing is occurring in the visual arts industry
except we’re still waiting for a savior like Sony – that’s a joke, kind of …

Artists stuck in the middle are being squeezed by galleries on one end, and by consumers who want a free ride on the other. The big three record companies left today are shadows of their former selves, while most professional working musicians now share more equitably in the overall revenue stream.

We no longer have such a long list of mega stars like we did back in the day, but the ones at the top like Adele, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Beyoncé, and Kanye West reign supreme and hyper-aggressively protect their turf.

Superstar turnover today is slower, but musicians in the middle who embraced social media and figured out how to develop database communities where they can sell their music and promote show tickets directly now have more of a flat playing field and a myriad of opportunities to generate revenue.

Overall, working musicians came out ahead just like visual artists will when the dust settles. It’s not an ideal market for artists, but it is an option to the gallery oligopoly that shuts out most artists for the sake of the top few.

Early adopters always have the best advantage, so don’t wait.

Check out what artist Molly Sado is selling online … what’re you selling?

Read  the entire 2017 War … of Art series
Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5     Part 6